Friday, June 4, 2010

Love your Enemies


“Love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44)

Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, challenges those listening to love their enemies. This is a totally different way of life then most of us are use to living. Everything is fine and easy when it comes to loving other people until we are told to love someone who has wronged us in the past. Jesus is crystal clear with this command to “love your enemies.”

This is part of radical Christian living. Only the heart truly transformed by the gospel of Christ can love an enemy. As sinners we can tend to find the smallest faults in people and hold grudges that can turn into the hating of another. The natural tendency is to retaliate by wronging the person who has wrong us. But followers of Christ ought to desire to be like Christ and obedient to his commands. His commands are not a checklist but are for our greatest good. Our Creator knows what will ultimately satisfy us in this world. When Jesus tells us to “love our enemies” he says it because he knows it will bring us the greatest joy. As far as retaliation Jesus tells us, “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you” (Matthew 5:39-42). This is an unnatural way to live. This kind of living requires supernatural power that can only come from the love of Christ. It takes a clear picture of the gospel to show us what it means to “love your enemies.”

The mind and heart that has been transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ recognizes the reality of someone loving an enemy. The Bible is clear that loving our enemies is a clear picture of the love Christ had for us when he went to the cross. Jesus can command us to “love our enemies” because he demonstrated that same love for us. And his love was to the greatest degree because we were rebels against his holiness. Romans 5 says, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (6-8). Lives transformed by the gospel see the great truth that Christ died in the place of his enemies out of love. Our lack of application of the gospel is shown when we speak unkindly of people we do not like or we retaliate because we have been wronged. Christ made it clear in his words and his actions when he says, “Love your enemies.”

Maybe you’re thinking, “I love the gospel but loving my enemies is not an easy thing to do.” You would be correct. This is not easy work but the work is worth it because it is for our greatest good and God’s great glory. Jesus also told his disciples to pick up their cross and follow him. We must die to ourselves daily in order to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. This takes much time in prayer and in God’s word. In order to know his will for our lives we must ask for his guidance and strength and we must be faithful to seek his will in his word. His will is that we would “love our enemies” so we must be faithful to ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind the truth of the gospel. The gospel is the great motivation to be able “love your enemies.”
Grace upon grace,
JRL

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